Hamilton’s public school board expects to finally tender the contract to build the new Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School in late July and break ground this fall.
Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months, so if all goes to plan the southeast Mountain school will open its doors in September 2019 – four years later than promised when trustees voted in 2012 to close Barton, Hill Park and Mountain.
To be built near the southwest corner of Upper Sherman Avenue and Rymal Road, it will replace the existing Henderson, formerly Barton, which is serving as a holding school and is scheduled to close in June 2019.
“It’s finally coming,” Dawn Danko, the area’s trustee, said following an update on the project at the Feb. 8 finance and facilities committee meeting.
“Grade 8 students, if they’re going next year into Grade 9, can expect half of their high-school career to be at the new Henderson school."
“Grade 8 students, if they’re going next year into Grade 9, can expect half of their high-school career to be at the new Henderson school. That’s significant.”
Senior facilities officer David Anderson said the $33.5-million school remains on budget despite delays in getting work underway.
He said an asterisk in a staff report flagging the September 2019 opening date as being at risk “is simply our capital folks being our capital folks” and he expects to get the Ministry of Education’s approval to proceed with construction in May.
Anderson said staff continues to work on finalizing designs, including for a stormwater retention pond and the extension of Upper Sherman south of Rymal.
Those details must be resolved to satisfy zoning conditions and allow the board to take possession of the 12-hectare property from owner Shermal Estates, which Danko said she expects to happen in early April.
The board is swapping a 10.5-hectare property it owns by Jerome Park site on the west Mountain as part of the deal to acquire the school site.
A preliminary design for the 1,250-student school shows a three-storey building fronting onto Upper Sherman.
An artificial-turf playing field with a track, bleachers and lighting are at the rear, while room for 390 parking spaces is set aside along the southern boundary, with another 15 in front for short-term visits.